Taint Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day, the day on which we celebrate love, romance, depression, guilt and regret. The holiday is named after Christian priest, St. Valentine, who was martyred on 14 February, 269 years after Christ was said to have been tortured and crucified by Romans — from whence we get the word “romance,” oddly enough.

The tradition of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day originates from Valentine himself. Due to a shortage of army enlistments, Emperor Claudius II forbade single men to get married. But it was ancient Rome, it’s not like the men needed women. Their army had a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Everyone Already Knows, It’s Cool” policy.

All the other Roman priests gaily went along with this plan of keeping the boys separate from girls. But not Valentine. Seeing this act as unholy, he performed secret wedding rituals in defiance of the emperor. He was discovered, imprisoned, and sentenced to death by decapitation. This may be where “getting head” on Valentine’s Day came from.

I digress.

While he was metaphorically losing his head in jail, Valentine fell in love with the daughter of a prison guard who’d come and visit him. Because now that he was in jail, and going to die, he was totally willing to go against his priestly vows, the hypocrite. Regardless, I don’t know why a prison guard would let his daughter visit a hardened criminal, but anyway…

On the day of his death, Valentine left a note for the young woman professing his undying devotion signed “Love from your Valentine.” I guess it isn’t hard to tell a woman you’ll love her for the rest of your life if you’re about to head off to the afterlife. Get it? Head off?

But the Romans were not finished with the dead romantic. Like Christmas and Easter, they then stole the holiday legacy from him, and gave it to a naked winged boy named Cupid, who shot arrows into your heart. Since then love forever became synonymous with pain.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.